The role of lysozyme in the immune immobilisation of is not yet fully understood. The immobilisation assay was used to demonstrate that the immobilisation and lysis of by antibodies (serum, IgG fraction or IgM fraction) and complement proceed in a lysozyme-independent mode. In the presence of lysozyme the rate of immobilisation increased. In contrast with its effect on , the effect of lysozyme on was governed exclusively by its enzymic activity rather than by the cationic protein nature of the molecule. Lysozyme, released from stimulated phagocytes, induced formation of lysozyme antibodies in 59.6% of syphilis patients as determined by lysozyme antibody ELISA. The highest frequency was found in patients with untreated secondary syphilis, whereas untreated primary syphilis was only rarely accompanied by the presence of lysozyme antibodies. Cross-reactivities between lysozyme and treponemal antigens were excluded by immunoblot-ting. The autoantibodies did not influence the lysozyme activity. It was concluded that the formation of lysozyme antibodies is only an epiphenomenon in the host defence against treponemal infection.


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